Ellard Prefers Trade to Missing Rest of Season

Times Staff Writer

Henry Ellard, unable to reach a contract agreement with the Rams, said Monday that he would rather be traded than sit out the season.

The National Football League deadline for trades is 1 p.m. PDT today.

"With the deadline tomorrow (today), I'm concerned that I won't play at all this year," Ellard said. "I'm going to ask to be traded."

Ellard, the Rams' leading receiver last season and the NFL's top career punt returner, said he had failed to reach Ram negotiator John Shaw Monday to tell him of his preference to be traded. Shaw was in Chicago for the NFL owners' meetings that start today.

Ellard later spoke to Ram Coach John Robinson, after a day when it appeared that a possible trade with the Indianapolis Colts was about to wither away, along with a deal that would send quarterback Doug Flutie's rights to the Chicago Bears.

According to Ellard's agent, Mike Blatt of Stockton, the Colts already had agreed to give Ellard a contract worth $1.7 million over 3 1/2 years (this being a half-season now)--$1 million more than Blatt originally had asked from the Rams, who offered only $1.2 million over five years.

The Rams wanted the Colts' first-round draft choice in 1987, but the Colts were offering their third in 1987 and a second in 1988.

Blatt also said he was told that the Colts had changed their offer Monday to offer a first in 1988 but Shaw refused.

Shaw refused to comment, but Colt Coach Rod Dowhower said: "We're just waiting for a call. It's all up to the Rams. The likelihood of it happening is not too good. I think they feel they need him."

Robinson, reflecting on Sunday's 26-14 loss at Atlanta when his starting wide receivers caught only one pass, did not deny that. With the Rams ranked next to last in the NFL this season, it's been more impasse than pass.

"It's frustrating," Robinson said of the Ellard situation. "We're still hopeful that there'll be a positive conclusion to it. We won't trade him unless there's something that's really in the best interests of our team. We certainly have to look, because things aren't going well in terms of negotiations."

Said Ellard: "I've never officially asked (to be traded), but I don't want to sit out the season. That's the last thing I want to happen."

He said he wouldn't be particular.

"I don't care. I just want to play."

The winless Colts, he noted, "are trying to build the team up and I could be part of that. They play in the dome there and that would be kind of nice."

Ellard was asked what he thought he would be worth in a trade.

"I feel if they're going to trade me, a second-round (choice) would be worth it. He (Shaw) is not willing to do that. He wants a first--but he doesn't want to pay me that way. That's what I don't understand. That just shows everybody that we're being fair (in) what we're asking for."

Said Robinson: "What is Henry Ellard worth? Who knows?

"There are two sides of it. There is that side to the issue that if Indianapolis is willing to pay it, therefore he should get it. You could certainly make that point."

Robinson said in an interview last year that, though he believes in a sound fiscal policy, "John Shaw has to understand what it takes to win."

Blatt's most recent demand of the Rams is for $1.39 million over four years, including what is left of this season.

He said that Ram wide receiver Ron Brown's contract calls for base salaries of only $150,000 this year and $200,000 next, but that the contract he signed two years ago also paid him a bonus of $1 million for "personal service" to owner Georgia Frontiere.

That, Blatt computed, would average out to $431,250 a year.

Meanwhile, the Bears apparently were willing to surrender a fourth-round choice, but no higher, to acquire Flutie's rights from the Rams, who drafted the former Heisman Trophy winner on the 11th round in 1985.

The Rams, who were asking a first-round pick from Green Bay earlier, are believed to be lowering their demand with the trade deadline today.

Ram Notes

An Indianapolis Colts official had a briefcase packed with a contract ready for Henry Ellard's signature, ready to fly to California on a moment's notice if a trade were made. . . . Coach John Robinson was upset about two more calls against the Rams Sunday for offensive linemen lining up off the line of scrimmage. That's three in two games. "I'm calling the league," Robinson said. "I dispute all three calls and I'm sending film on them. Not in any case is there a violation." The calls Sunday were made by line judge Jack Fette, a 22-year National Football League veteran. . . . Robinson said the Atlanta game "was a clear indication of the importance of field position," noting that the Rams had three of the game's four longest drives. The Rams' poor field position was attributed to the poor performance of the special teams and especially Pro Bowl punter Dale Hatcher, both tops in the NFL last season. A field-goal attempt was blocked at Atlanta, and Hatcher averaged only 27.4 yards, a career low. "His job is to punt the ball, and he's not doing his job right now. He'll fight his way out of it." . . . Fullback Barry Redden left the game with a sore ankle but is expected to play against the Detroit Lions at Anaheim Sunday.

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